by Susan Thomas

With six people in our family, we’ve had lots of opportunities to visit the doctor. We have experienced everything from colds, flus, and ear infections all the way to viral meningitis, serum sickness-like reaction, and life-threatening allergies. And I’m not even talking about the injuries! We have had our share of doctor visits.

When I go to the doctor, I have a pretty simple agenda. I want to know the answer to two questions: “What is wrong and how can I get healthy?” I’m not feeling well, and I need help. In order to accurately treat a sick patient, the doctor’s first goal is to determine what is causing the unhealthy symptoms. Sometimes it’s an easy diagnosis, and sometimes tests, x-rays and scans are required. But, no matter what, the root of the symptoms must be revealed. This is true for our physical bodies and it’s true for our spiritual lives.

We have to get to the root.

When we are sick, the symptoms of our illness tend to show up way before the root is exposed. We may face symptoms such as paralyzing anxiety, anger out of control, marriage in distress, financial chaos, and much more. We lack peace and long for relief. Where does this pain originate? Our Great Physician offers us great clarity and help.

Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life. Proverbs 4:23 (NLT)

Your heart determines the course of your life. God reveals that the condition of our hearts will determine the course of our lives. What is inside your heart is taking you somewhere!

Sick heart = sick life. Healthy heart = healthy life.

Your heart is highly valuable. We don’t guard something that’s worth nothing. When I take out my trash, I’m fine with walking away. As long as it’s gone, I’m not too concerned with who comes and gets it.

However, I would never intentionally leave my wedding ring sitting on the street corner or cash my paycheck and give it all to my five-year-old to play “store.” When something is valuable, we guard it. We protect it. Your heart is of HUGE VALUE. And God says guard it! But why would we need to guard our hearts?

Your heart is under attack. Just like a bacteria can attack our physical bodies, there is a real assault on your heart and my heart. The very nature of the words “guard your heart” indicate that there is something we have to guard against. The Bible is clear that we have enemies.

Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. 1 Peter 5:8 (NLT)

For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. Ephesians 6:12 (NLT)

Your heart is sick. Not only do we face the enemies around us, God reveals perhaps the greatest battle lies within us.

The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is? Jeremiah 17:9 (NLT)

We have a HEART PROBLEM.

14 Then Jesus called to the crowd to come and hear. “All of you listen,” he said, “and try to understand. 15 It’s not what goes into your body that defiles you; you are defiled by what comes from your heart… 21 For from within, out of a person’s heart, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, 22 adultery, greed, wickedness, deceit, lustful desires, envy, slander, pride, and foolishness. 23 All these vile things come from within; they are what defile you.” Mark 7:14-15, 21-23 (NLT)

I believe if we misunderstand the root of our problem, we will miss TRUE and COMPLETE healing! It’s like trying to treat cancer with a Band-Aid. In many well-meaning Christians, our first line of attack is to address our thoughts. Yet Jesus just told us that our sinful, unhealthy thoughts originate from our sick hearts! Our hearts are ground zero.

If not careful, we can make the common mistake of tackling the thoughts but missing the heart. We become aware of our messed up thinking, but we never stop to examine what’s behind the messed up thinking! We set out on a mission to deal with our thoughts and if not careful we may fall into two common traps.

The “More Knowledge” Trap

We set out on a knowledge quest. We read every book we can get our hands on. We are seeking content, content, content. Just give me the information so I can follow it. We may even turn to the Bible and attend multiple Bible studies, but we see no results. Now hear me, knowledge of God’s word is CRUCIAL. We must be people who discover the truths God has for us so we can learn to identify the false beliefs that lead us to pain and heartache. But more knowledge is not the ultimate answer.

The “More Willpower” Trap

When it comes to our thought life, we determine that we must have more self-control. We begin the quest to obey God and “take captive every thought” as it comes into our head. We fight to replace the false with the truth. We determine we will not give in to the destructive patterns and behaviors of our past. Yet we continue to fail.

We cry out in desperation wondering why am I still failing? Why do I keep repeating the same behaviors? Until we deal with the root of our problems, we fill find ourselves exhausted, frustrated and defeated.

We have to get to the root!

But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness. 1 John 1:9 (NLT)

God is our Creator and the Great Cardiologist of the soul. He has the ability and power to forgive our sins and heal our lives. He loves us and desires that He be our first love. We must go to Him with our sick places. We must ask Him to reveal the ROOT of pride, lust, selfishness, envy, bitterness, idolatry, or any other sin making our hearts sick. Confession of sin unlocks healing in our lives. God wants our hearts. God wants our love. God wants our healing.

When it comes to living this life, I’ve come to believe that…

The healthiest people realize how sick they are.

And they run to the Savior. He is our Healer. There is no more room for wallowing in shame and condemnation. I’m sick, and that’s a fact. So, let’s allow God to shine the light on our sick places, deal with it, and move on, healed in Jesus’ Name!